Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Messi have been accused by Spanish tax authorities of defrauding the state of more than €4 million, with the complaint submitted for trial.
Messi and his father are alleged of filing fraudulent tax returns for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office for tax crimes in Catalonia claimed on Wednsday.
Prosecutor Raquel Amado has signed the complaint, which has been submitted for trial at the courthouse situated in Gava - the district of Barcelona where the forward, currently on international duty with Argentina, lives.
Both Messi and his father have been accused of three offences against the public purse, and a judge at the courthouse in question must accept the lawsuit from the prosecutor before charges can be brought against the pair.
Messi released a statement via his Facebook page: “We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about those news, because we have never committed any infringement.
"We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our Tax Consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
Barcelona have declined to comment on the matter, while Messi has been in Ecuador having played on Argentina's 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifying match.
ESPN research released on Tuesday claims Messi is the second highest paid athlete in the world - behind only boxer Manny Pacquiao - with the Barcelona icon earning $46 million per annum.